Legionella Confirmed in Batavia High School Cooling Tower

Legionella Confirmed in Batavia High School Cooling Tower

Batavia School District 101 officials confirmed last week that swab samples from a Batavia High School cooling tower tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

According to a Kane County Health Department news release, there have been 15 total confirmed human cases: 13 at Covenant Living at the Holmstad and two additional cases — one resident of Geneva and one resident of Batavia, within one-half mile of the facility.

School officials said there have been no public reports of anyone contracting Legionella at the school.

“There has not been an increased reporting of respiratory illnesses to the district,” the news release said. “There are no known cases of Legionnaires’ disease among BPS students, staff or visitors.”

In a School District 101 news release posted Oct. 2 on the city of Batavia website, school officials said staff learned in an email from the Illinois Department of Public Health and subsequent conference call with IDHP and KCHD on Oct. 1, that swab samples of the Batavia High School cooling tower returned positive results for the Legionella bacteria.

“We have been advised that it is safe for people to be at Batavia High School and have indicated that the cooling towers at BHS are a less likely source of the actual Legionnaire cases. IDPH does not have reason to believe that the potable water in the school, such as sinks and drinking fountains, is unsafe,” school officials said in the release.

Cooling Towers Shut Down

Cooling tower illustration.

The School District news release said the district regularly cleans and tests the cooling towers, and annually, the towers are turned off at the end of the warm weather seasons.

In an abundance of caution, this year, the district decided to shut down the cooling towers on Sept. 24. Officials said the cooling towers will be cleaned, disinfected, and tested before returning to service in the spring.

School nurses have been instructed to have a heightened awareness for symptoms indicative of Legionnaires’ disease. Resources were made available to the nurses and were posted on BPS101.net for public reference.

About Legionnaires’ Disease

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria can be found in both natural and manmade water systems. Natural water sources including streams, rivers, freshwater ponds, and lakes, and soil can contain the organism at low levels.

A recent outbreak has caused some community concern.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. People who inhale water vapor (mist) that contains the bacteria can get sick.

Health officials say the risk of getting sick from a building’s water supply is very low, especially for healthy people. Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person.

Learn more about Legionnaires’ Disease from the experts.

  • Click here for information on Legionellosis from the Illinois Dept. of Public Health
  • Click here for information on Legionnaires’ Disease from the CDC

SOURCE: Batavia School District 101 news release

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